03 May 2007

Go on, treat yourself to a big knob...

I've been on holiday. Yes thanks...very nice. Like you care.

But it means that I'm having to catch up a bit...email, blogs, proper magazines. Two bits of my catching up segued nicely last night, relating, as they did, to Second Life.

First, I noticed that Lewis PR man Morgan McLintic used his blog to push a vacant PR position at Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life. I wouldn't have paid it much attention to be honest, as I'm not in the market for a job. But I was struck by this line in McLintic's plug:

"If you have a good grasp of PR, are flexible and willing to learn and are also 'into' Second Life, this is a killer opp."

Do they really need someone who's "'into' Second Life"? There's a lot of cynicism about it, so wouldn't it be more useful to find someone who's a sceptic? Someone who's more likely to be in touch with the more pervasive perception that Second Life is a place for saddos with no life - not even a first one, let alone a second - to hang out? Hiring an advocate will only lead, in my eyes, to PR campaigns that preach to the converted.

Interestingly, in the official Linden Lab job outline - which McLintic points to - there's no mention of wanting to find someone who's already a fan of Second Life...so presumably it's something that McLintic alone thinks is necessary..?

Later last night I was flicking through the Economist from a couple of weeks ago. Two arrived while I was away and another will be turning up tomorrow, so I haven't got the time to read the old ones in any great detail. However, a short article under the heading "Sex and the internet" caught my eye...can't imagine why. You'll need a subsciption to read it - so get one, you muppet.

It was a great little piece about how pornography has traditionally been the content to first take advantage of new media...whether photography, video, satellite TV, DVD or the internet...but that as any technology becomes etsablished, other content becomes dominant. The story cited statistics showing how, in the next few months, net communities and chat will overtake porn in enjoying the highest proportion of US site visits.

That's not to say that the appetitie for sexual content itself is subsiding, it's just moving on to other, newer technological platforms...like Second Life, for example.

Yes indeed, you might be as suprised to read as I was that a large amount of the economic activity in Second Life relates to sex (obviously you won't be surprised if you've ever been in Second Life, but I'm assuming - safely - that you haven't). It's hard to say how much, but The Economist tells me that "an employee of Linden Labs...once ventured that 30% of transactions related to sex or gambling. Edward Castronova of Indiana University estimates that sex is "a substantial portion, perhaps even the majority" of economic transactions in Second Life."

And get this...if you want your avatar to sport a knob or a fanny, you've got to buy one. Otherwise it'll look like a naked Action Man.

Linden Labs has the following mission: "To expand the human experience by building an online world allowing people to interact, communicate, and collaborate in a revolutionary way."

A simpler mission would seem to be: "To create, like, the seedy bits of Las Vegas, but online..."

Now that's a PR challenge to get your teeth into...


Iain T said...

Sex has been a precursor for many new technologies, photographs, film, video and now the internet. Why it's slipping in the rankings seems to me to be a sign of the maturity of the technology - people are now using it who have no interest in such things.

The same thing is happening in online communities - sex is the driver for some then the market catches up.

This post in Savage Love may also provide some insight - http://www.avclub.com/content/node/61297

....the world's leading.... said...

I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't mind a bit of porn. I prefer it to feature real people though...and decent-looking ones at that. I draw the line at animals and grannies - particularly together - and avatars are a complete no-go.

It's funny though, when I did look a bit more carefully at Second Life a while back, it did seem that it forced users to adopt a pornstar name...maybe that influences behaviour?

Anonymous said...

Much as I can't stand Lewis and all that it stands for - bloody hell! they're getting a lot of coverage for Second Life.

Dirk Singer said...

In the April issue of Prospect, Victor Keegan had an interesting take on the whole 'get a first life' line.

His argument was that spending time in somewhere like Second Life is no more unreal or 'sad' than being slumped in front of the box watching Big Brother.

For one thing you interact with other people, something you generally don't do while glued to the telly even if there are other people in the room with you. You also have the ability to create some interesting environments and SL uses, the Universities offering virtual courses is just one thing that springs to mind.

For sure going to a virtual world as a substitute for real life isn't healthy, and yes the giant knob and furry communities are a little strange.

But Iain t is right. Think back to the late 90s when a lot of us were involved in the first dot.com boom and sex was taking up a large proportion of net traffic and searches.

Naturally the porn and the smut hasn't gone away and it never will. It did become much less prominent once the Internet attracted a more mainstream crowd and no doubt virtual worlds will evolve in the same way.

Anonymous said...

Hope you a had a nice hol TWL.

....the world's leading.... said...

You do care!


Anonymous said...

>>"His argument was that spending time in somewhere like Second Life is no more unreal or 'sad' than being slumped in front of the box watching Big Brother."<<

but it is still a lot sadder than actually getting out and doing something with your (first) life.......surely...?

Dirk Singer said...

Like I said: Spending all your time in an online environment clearly can't be healthy.

But like a lot of things, I fail to see the harm if it's done in moderation. Especially if you use it as a platform to learn something about the - real - world around you.

For example see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6544377.stm